OUWB, Chandler Park Academy host 11th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Health Fair

Nearly 40 Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine students volunteered at the 11th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Health Fair at Chandler Park Academy High School in Harper Woods on Jan. 20.

Open to both Chandler Park Academy students and the surrounding community, attendees were able to receive basic health screenings and flu shots as well as partake in various educational activities related to the medical field. Various vendors were also in attendance to provide health and wellness services.

The event, which returned in-person after two years of being held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, takes place annually in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“This is one of our signature events….it is part of our community outreach,” said Tiffany Williams, Ph.D., director, Diversity & Inclusion, OUWB. “It’s important for our medical students from our school to show up for the people that we serve.”

“We are trying to make sure that we have an outreach — and an in-reach — to those in underrepresented communities,” said Tonya Bailey, Ph.D., associate dean, Diversity & Inclusion and Community Engagement, OUWB.

“A lot of times, these communities don’t have an opportunity to seek great health care, so we’re bringing the health right to their doorstep.”

Building interpersonal skills

An image of the OUWB group at the health fair
The group of students, staff, and faculty at the health fair.

Kelvin Wise, district STEM coordinator, Chandler Park Academy, said that holding this event provides an opportunity to instill health awareness in K-12 students early.

“We want to try to inform our students about healthy habits and [for them to] be cognizant of monitoring their health and knowing their numbers at an early age, so that as they get older, they will be cognizant of their health and be able to monitor it,” he said.

Wise said that having the medical students speaking with the high school students not only assists with their education but also serves to inspire them.

“I think they’re able to relate to (the medical students) because they’re able to see people that are very close in age,” he said. “They’re able to see the fact that, ‘I can be in this position, or I can be in medical school in a few years.”

This interaction is mutually beneficial. Williams said that participating in the event allows medical students to gain knowledge they cannot get elsewhere.

“We pride ourselves in having compassion, being humanitarians, and I think this is an opportunity for them to build those interpersonal skills with people, that bedside manner, being able to talk to people, see people, and interact with different kinds of people,” said Williams. “This is a skill that you don’t get in a textbook, but you get with real life experience.”

‘Very lovely’ event

An image of a student from OUWB giving a flu shot
Fanny Huang, M2, was among OUWB students at the flu shot station. (Photo by Rob Hall)

Of the 28 tables, 12 were staffed by representatives of the OUWB community. The other tables were sponsored by organizations such as Oakland University’s Admissions, Michigan Health Council and DTE Energy.

One of the tables was presented by OUWB’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA), which is involved in organizing the event.

At SNMA’s table, OUWB students administered free flu shots. Fanny Huang, M2, outreach chair, SNMA, said she was surprised by the amount of people who were apprehensive about the treatment.

This is one example of why this event is important, she said, as it helped her “get a perspective on the community.”

“In reality, it can be scary for the community members and patients,” said Huang. “Getting the opportunity to talk to patients on topics like vaccine hesitancy is important.”

Kaitlin Pataroque, M4, Street Medicine Oakland representative, said that organization’s table provided a similar teaching experience as they checked attendees’ vitals.

“For the students that are interested in going into health care, I told them that they could practice on me, so it was cool to walk them through and encourage them in case they do go into the medical field,” said Pataroque.

Furthermore, she said, she’s able to educate people about how physicians interact with their communities.

“(Street Medicine Oakland’s) mission is to help bridge the gap between homelessness and health care,” she said. “A lot of kids that we’ve talked to today have been asking us questions about what we do, because they’ve never heard of anything like doctors meeting patients who are homeless. It’s been a really good educational opportunity.”

Taler Smith, junior, Chandler Park Academy High School, said that he decided to attend due to an interest in the medical field.

“I know people in the medical field, and I want to know more about my health,” he said. “I went everywhere (here at the fair); everything seemed interesting.”

Chandler Park Academy High School freshman Jourae’ Bell echoed a similar sentiment.

“My dream is to be a nurse or a doctor because I like helping people,” said Bell. “Science is interesting.”

Jammere Doney, freshman, said she found the most interesting part of the fair to be the Harm Reduction Alliance’s table regarding alcohol and drug use where attendees were able to try on alcohol simulation goggles. 

“With the goggles on, you had to walk on the line,” she said, “It was an (eye-opening) experience.”

Overall, Huang said, she’s glad to be able to provide these opportunities to students in-person again.

“We have such a diverse company of vendors and OUWB students who are happy to spend time volunteering here to educate high schoolers and community members,” she said. “It’s just very lovely to see everyone together and serving the community.”

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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